The Air Cadet Organisation is one of the largest operators of the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme (DofE) in the UK. The activities and opportunities available through the Air Training Corps are a great way of completing your Duke of Edinburgh Award.
Skills for life
The DofE is open to every cadet aged 14 or older and is composed of four different sections (five at Gold level) designed to develop new skills and interests. Throughout your time completing the DofE award you will be involved in helping your local community or your peers, learn a new skill such as photography or aircraft recognition, improve your ability in a chosen physical activity and take part in an expedition with friends.
The DofE has three different levels of challenge and duration. Most cadets start at Bronze level as this is offered free of charge as part by the ATC. Below are the different levels of the Award and the time-scales involved:
The Bronze level is where most people start their Duke of Edinburgh Award and you can begin this level of the Award once you’re 14 (or nearly 14 if you and your friends who are 14 decide to start the Award together).
The Bronze Award has 4 sections that you must complete – Volunteering, Physical, Skills and Expedition. You must complete a minimum of 3 months activity for each of the Volunteering, Physical and Skills sections, and plan, train for and complete a 2 day (1 night) Expedition.
You will also need to decide which of the Volunteering, Physically and Skills sections that you will undertake for a further 3 months. The choice is yours and depends on what you are interested in completing as part of your Award and, although you can change your mind later, you should decide which section you want to do for 6 months at the beginning. Knowing how long you will be doing each section for will help you to chose the activities you want to complete and the goals for each section.
It will usually take you at least 6 months to complete your Bronze programme.
The Silver Award is the next step up from Bronze and the activities at this level should develop on what you did at Bronze level. To start the Silver Award you need to be at least 15 years old. If you’ve achieved your Bronze Award, you may allow you to start your Silver a month or two before your 15th birthday.
Like Bronze, a Silver Duke of Edinburgh Award programme has 4 sections – Volunteering, Physical, Skills and Expedition. You need to spend at least 6 months Volunteering and a minimum of 6 months on either Physical or Skills section and 3 months on the other. It’s up to you which one you choose to do for the longer period. The Expedition section involves planning, training for and completing a 3 day (2 night) expedition.
If you completed the Bronze Award, you can choose the same activity for Silver, but you need to show development in it. It’s best to try something new so you can gain new experiences.
If you start your Silver without doing Bronze first you’ll have to do an extra 6 months completing the Volunteering or whichever of the Physical or Skills sections you have spent the most time on. Although you can change your mind later, you should decide which section you want to do for longer at the beginning. Knowing how long you’re going to do it for will help you to choose your activity and set your goals for each section.
It will take you at least 6 months for Silver if you’ve already achieved your Bronze, or 12 months if you’ve jumped straight into Silver.
On reaching your 16th birthday you can start your Gold DofE programme. No activities can be counted to the Gold Award before your 16th birthday. Like the Silver Award, if you did a previous level, you can choose the same activity for Gold, but you need to show development in it so it’s best to try something new!
At Gold level you will spend 12 months on your Volunteering section. For Physical and Skills you must spend 12 months on one and six months on the other – you decide which way round you do it. Your expedition will be for four days and three nights (plus an acclimatisation day) and should take place in ‘wild country’.
The big difference at Gold is you’ll also complete a 5th section called the Residential section. This involves staying away from home for five days and four nights doing a shared activity with people you don’t know. It’s great fun and a real chance to do something different!
If you are a direct entrant on the Gold DofE programme you’ll need to do a further six months either Volunteering or whichever one of your Physical or Skills activities you spent the most time on.
For Gold, you’ll need to do your programme for at least 12 months if you’ve achieved your Silver Award, or 18 months if you’ve started at Gold level without doing your Silver – even if you’ve done Bronze.